Cardinals’ offer to Albert Pujols likely to remain in the range of $22 million per year

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The Cardinals tried to lock up first baseman Albert Pujols last offseason with a nine-year offer worth between $22 million and $22.5 million annually.

Since the day that proposal was rejected by Pujols and his agent Dan Lozano, talks have not restarted. But they will in early November, when baseball’s best hitter will be just steps away from free agency.

Will the Cardinals’ front office change its tune? Will the offer improve? And which of MLB’s other 29 teams are going to be making bids?

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has consistently provided the most accurate details on the matter, and ran a column Saturday with a couple of notes on the looming negotiations.

  • The Cardinals are “currently inclined” to remain within the salary framework of the original offer ($22M-$22.5M annually) and may even “tighten” its length.
  • That stance could change if another team makes a better bid.
  • The Cubs, Rangers, Angels, Marlins and Nationals are currently being “cited” as the other potential suitors.

In other words, it’s going to be a lot like every other big-time free agent sweepstakes. If the Cards are outbid, they’ll up the ante. But they’re not going to stretch their payroll without a good reason. And with the Yankees and Red Sox likely sitting this one out, perhaps a $200 million deal will actually do the trick.

Keep in mind that Ryan Howard, a .274/.368/.560 career hitter and poor defender, is set to earn $25 million a year between 2014 and 2016. Pujols is a .329/.421/.618 career batter and a worthy two-time Gold Glover.

Fox, MLB sign broadcast rights extension through 2028

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FOX Sports and Major League Baseball announced a few minutes ago that they have agreed to a multi-year broadcast rights extension. The deal keeps Fox as the lead MLB rights holder, and home of the World Series, All-Star Game and a good chunk of the playoffs through at least 2028.

While the press release does not announce the financial terms, Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that it will pay Major League Baseball about 30-40% more than the previous contract. While ratings are not what they used to be, it would seem that the eyeballs Fox is getting are more valuable to it.

UPDATE: That bump is actually even bigger:

For the time being, things will look very much like they do now. Starting in 2022, there will be more games broadcast. There are no specifics about how many more. The release says “FOX Sports will also expand its digital rights,” but again, no specifics on what that means, exactly.

FOX Sports has been a baseball rights-holder since 1996 and has been the exclusive national non-cable rights holder since 2001. That’s gonna continue for at least another decade.